Since joining the McGuire Programme, in March 2018 and attending a refresher course in Harrogate, my confidence in my speech has only been increasing to the point where I asked my school if I could speak at the leavers’ assembly. As a covert stutterer, I was very nervous about the reaction and due to having two 5-hour GCSEs the days before, I didn’t have the chance to tell anybody what I had planned.
Once I started speaking, I overcame my nerves and felt so proud that I had inspired people during National Stuttering Awareness Week. I informed the audience that stuttering is more common than they think and used statistics to emphasise that there should be roughly 10 in our school. I also told them to remember the McGuire Programme if they know anybody with a stutter. I felt that it really helped when I made reference to the celebrities that stutter and I saw some surprised faces.
A teacher emailed me to say that it was a wonderful speech and, “so many members of the tutor group said how brilliant it was”. This is a great example that people surprise you with their reactions in a positive way. After hearing me tell my peers that, before joining the programme, my Maths teacher laughed at me when I couldn’t say my name in front of my whole class; the school asked me if I would like to make a presentation to all of the teachers about stuttering as part of their teacher training, which is the next challenge that I look forward to!
Every day, my McGuire Programme coaches prepared me for the assembly over the phone. I called them both the evening before and practised my speech while one cried – I felt so honoured that I have such dedicated coaches, especially when she posted the video on her Instagram page. I was delighted when another coach called me on the morning of the speech to motivate me and I really appreciate it. The support from all of the coaches that I regularly speak to has been tremendous.